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Art Cars

A Different Kind of Canvas

by Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder

For most of us, a vehicle is used as a means to get to work, shuttle our kids to events and pick up the groceries. But, for a surprising number of people their vehicle is much more. Cars become a tool to express individuality, a canvas to be painted, an item to glue and bolt all manner of things to.

Who creates these Art Cars? Lots of folks - like housewives, plumbers mechanics, eccentrics and a topless dancer named Jackie Harris whose 1965 Ford Country squire was covered in plastic fruit and paint. It is known as "The Fruit Mobile".

Harrod Blank with "Oh My God"

As soon as the horse and carriage was replaced by the automobile, it presented people with an new exciting opportunity. More than just a mode of transport, automobiles became a new object to decorate or paint. Another way to say to the world "Hey! Look at me!"

Meet Jan Elftman, a creative soul who decorated her pickup truck with thousands of corks she collected over a 15 year period when she worked as a waitress in an Italian restaurant. She glued and glued until every bit of her vehicle (all except the windows) were covered in corks.

Then there was Gene Pool, who in the early 1980s covered his vehicle with sticky adhesives on top of which he spread seeds. The result was a moving yard of dense green foliage which he dubbed "Grass Car".

Some folks like Rick McKinney, sometimes call their Art Cars home. McKinney is a writer ho expresses the same untamed zany creativity in both his writing and in the decor of his beloved car he calls " Duke" The car has a second story and made from television sets, trunks, bowling pins, a couple of cow sculls and hundreds of knickknacks and toys. What a tribute to the freedom of soul and spirit.

Harrod Blank is a film maker and artist, who has created no less than three Art Cars. There is a VW called "Oh My God" (seen above right). There is also "Camera Van", a van covered in cameras - a number of which still work and take photographs from all angles. Finally, there is "Pico de Gallo", a rock and roll car decorated with musical instruments.

And lets not forget "Max the Daredevil Finmobile". This 1985 Dodge van sports thirteen foot fins and is owned by Tom Kennedy. When Tom drives by everybody notices.

Text © Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder; Photos Reprinted with Permission

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